Over 130 years of history
Bikes made in the Netherlands since 1892
Our passion for cycling started over 130 years ago and we never stopped creating comfortable bicycles with smart innovations that are build to last. Here's our story!
The foundation of Gazelle
Willem Kölling, a postal worker in Dieren, imported and sold his first bicycle - along with a lesson in how to ride it - in 1892. Willem predicted that bicycles, then something of a phenomenon, would have a great future. He went into partnership with his friend, the blacksmith Rudolf Arentsen. They initially focused on selling bicycles imported from England, carrying out repairs and trading in bicycle parts. Willem took care of the business side of things, while Rudolf handled the technical side. They named their company "Arentsen & Kölling". The abbreviation of the company name can be seen on the first head badges.
The men purchased a plot of land at the site still used today and had a factory built on it. They quickly outgrew the original premises. To this day, Gazelle still manufactures bicycles on the site where the original factory was built, making it the oldest factory in the Netherlands to maintain manufacturing processes at the same site.
The Gazelle brand name
The story goes that Willem saw a roebuck cross his path while walking in the Veluwe national park and was struck by the animal's agility. Getting out an encyclopaedia once he returned home, he found an image of a gazelle and saw that it was the epitome of grace, strength and speed. Whatever the truth of the story, the Gazelle name has been used for the bicycles since 1902, although it was only officially registered as a brand name in 1907.
A family business
The business partners went their separate ways in early 1905. Rudolf received the sum of 50,000 guilders (which was a considerable sum back then). Willem retained the land and buildings, the machinery and inventory and the right to continue using the name "Arentsen & Kölling". The documentation for this agreement explicitly stated that no articles of association were drawn up at the time.
Willem was unable to handle the workload alone and asked his brother Hendrik, who had been working at Gazelle since 1902, to join him in managing the company. In 1912 (some sources suggest it was actually 1907), the brothers asked their nephew, Jan Breukink, to help with their ever-expanding enterprise. A family business was born - a fact confirmed on 11 June 1915 when Gazelle Rijwielfabriek was established to replace the former Arentsen & Kölling. The partners were Willem, Hendrik, their sister Jo Kölling, and Jan Breukink.
The number of bicycles being produced by Gazelle has increased dramatically. A letter from July 1907 states that sales had surpassed expectations and production was being scaled up to 150 bicycles per week!
The first clearly documented milestone was production of the 200,000th Gazelle on 27 September 1924.
1954 - one millionth bicycle
Sale of the family business
The company encountered some difficult years. Competition from the car market and cheap bicycles from abroad had terrible consequences. In 1971, the family was forced to sell the company. Gazelle was taken over by English company Raleigh, which completely overhauled the business processes. Productivity increased and Gazelle got back into the black.
Piet Pelle and his Gazelle
Piet Pelle played an important role in communication and promotion at Gazelle for decades. This young man was the title character of a comic strip: "Piet Pelle op zijn Gazelle. Een artistiek prentenboekske voor kinderen van 8 tot 80 jaar [Piet Pelle on his Gazelle. An artistic picture book for children aged 8 to 80]”. From the 1930s onwards, this comic book was handed out by Gazelle dealers as a promotional item with Gazelle children's bicycles.
a major role in the development of the bicycle and its various eras. It was certainly a royal day for Gazelle, in more ways than one:
H.R.H. Princess Margriet performed the symbolic final assembly operation for the 8,000,000th bicycle to be produced by Gazelle. The bicycle in question, a Road Cruiser, was dedicated by Princess Margriet for the Red Cross.
To mark its centenary, Gazelle was also awarded the "Koninklijk" title to designate its royal approval, conferred by the Queen's Commissioner in Gelderland, J.C. Terlouw. From then on, the factory was known as Koninklijke Gazelle (Royal Dutch Gazelle). Being awarded this distinction was the crowning glory of our work.
Part of Pon
In 2011, Gazelle became part of Pon and played its part in development of the emerging e-bikes trend. The factory was modernised to scale up the production of e-bikes. The new factory was opened by King Willem-Alexander, and with that Gazelle was ready for a new cycling revolution.
The hard work paid off and the 15,000,000th bicycle was produced in 2018.
We continue crafting the most comfortable and innovative bicycles. So we are over 130 years old… but we’re also just getting started!
More than ever, we believe cycling makes the world a better, healthier and a more fun place. We aim for a world in which cycling is the obvious choice for urban rides and leisure trips. Empowering and encouraging people to move forward whilst having a positive impact on the world.
That urges us to craft bicycles of the highest standards, based on our riders experiences. Like we have been doing for over 130 years.